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orion-list Qumran Cemetery reply

Dear Colleagues

I thought that I'd wait for my article to appear in libraries before
entering the
fray but colleagues have already entered into discussion regarding my
paper in Boston so I feel now,  perhaps its time to answer some of the
critics. First of all I
never looked upon my paper as a paradigm shift which J. Zangenberg hints
at, as my work essentially
supports rather than challenges the original work by de Vaux. My
intention was simply give the lecture, prepare a paper and be done with
it, hoping to settle once and for all what is basically a very simple
problem in the field of burial archaeology. In fact, I took a British
colleague  (Piers Mitchell) to the site several months ago and explained
to him in a minute or two the ongoing controversy, within seconds of
seeing the cemetery  for the first time, he immediately replied, those
east west
burials are either Christian or Moslem.  For those of us working in
burial archaeology, it's that simple. What was difficult was reading all
the literature on the topic as well as greatly expanding the original
paper so as
to put all of this controversy on a firm footing. I realize that it's
difficult for those not in burial archaeology and physical anthropology
to understand some of the basic principals which accounts for the
somewhat exaggerated length of the article. This in fact, is why, many
scholars outside the profession have failed to see the obvious. I don't
attempt to conduct
research on scrolls as I simply don't understand the discipline whereas
nearly everyone has tried to deal with the issue of women in the
cemetery without having studied archaeology or phy. anthro. In fact, I
first circulated the paper among scholars (and they are few)  who came
from the field of archaeology into Scroll studies as I felt they would
best be able to understand the complex issues involved. It was only then
when I had their support that I carried through with the paper. What I
found troubling  when reading the articles done by scholars, some of
which were brillant, was that all papers, with the exception of the
German paper by Dr. Olav Rohrer-Ertl were authored by one individual
whereas in the field of Physical Anthropology, some of our papers look
as if they were written by a committee :-) Had scholars taken this
approach and consulted with those outside their disciplines the current
crisis could have been avoided 45 years ago, however each and every
person has attempted to address these issues without the help of those
in arch/anthro. 

As far as the contention by J. Zangenberg that my inclusion of the
Jerusalem cemetery in
the paper destroys my argument one will see upon careful reading that I
wrote just the opposite " ... while some of the tombs are ethnically
Jewish and probably Essene, without the final scientific report, it is
difficult to compare this cemetery with the cemeteries of Qumran and Ain
el-Ghuweir" p. 243. Secondly, I note that SEVERAL of the tombs follows
the Qumran north south axis, not all,  which was implied by him. 

Lastly, J. Zangenberg argues that the archaeology of Qumran goes against
the association of the site being Essene whereas in my opinion and that
of many others it is specifically the archaeology of Qumran which makes
the designation Essene. In fact, where else in the field of ANE
archaeology will one find a site where the inhabitants live outside the
site, the cemetery is all male except for one female, no children, no
infants, several caves are located on the plateau in which one must
trasverse the site in order to get to the caves, the numerous mikvot,
the pottery in the storeroom, ect. The list is long... and like the
cemetery, the archaeological evidence is compelling. 


Joe Zias

For private reply, e-mail to Joe Zias <zias@inter.net.il>
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